Home News US COVID Surge: The Summer of Hope Ends in Gloom As Delta Variant Wrecks Havoc

US COVID Surge: The Summer of Hope Ends in Gloom As Delta Variant Wrecks Havoc

US COVID Surge: The Summer of Hope Ends in Gloom As Delta Variant Wrecks Havoc

The summer that was supposed to mark America’s independence from COVID-19 is instead drawing to a close with the US more firmly under the tyranny of the virus, with deaths per day back up to where they were in March.

The delta variant is filling hospitals, sickening alarming numbers of children, and driving coronavirus deaths in some places to the highest levels of the entire pandemic.

School systems that reopened their classrooms are abruptly switching back to remote learning because of outbreaks.

Legal disputes, threats, and violence have erupted over mask and vaccine requirements.

The US death toll stands at more than 650,000, with one major forecast model projecting it will top 750,000 by Dec.1.

“It felt like we had this forward, positive momentum,” lamented Katie Button, executive chef, and CEO at two restaurants in Asheville, North Carolina.

“The delta variant wiped that timeline completely away”.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way.

More than six months into the US vaccination drive, President Joe Biden held a White House party on July Fourth to celebrate the country’s freedom from the virus, and other political leaders had high hopes for a close-to-normal summer.

Then the bottom fell out.

The summer wave was fuelled by the extra-contagious delta variant combined with stark resistance to vaccinations that formed along political and geographic lines, said Dr. Sten Vermund, of the Yale School of Public Health.

“The virus was more efficient in spreading among the unvaccinated so that you blunted the expected benefit of vaccines,” Vermund said.

The crisis escalated rapidly from June to August.

About 400,000 COVID-19 infections were recorded for all of June.

It took all three days last week to reach the same number.

The US recorded 26,800 deaths and more than 4.2 million infections in August.

The number of monthly positive cases was the fourth-highest total since the start of the pandemic.

The 2021 delta-driven onslaught is killing younger Americans at a much higher rate than previous waves of the pandemic in the Northeast last spring, the Sun Belt in the summer of 2020, and the deadly winter surge around the holidays.

During the peaks of those waves, Americans over 75 suffered the highest proportion of death.

Now, the most vulnerable age group for death is 50 to 64, according to data from US officials.

Overall, the outbreak is still well below the all-time peaks reached over the winter, when deaths topped out at 3,400 a day and new cases at a quarter-million per day.

The US is now averaging over 150,000 new cases per day, levels not seen since January.

Deaths are close to 1,500 per day, up more than a third since late August.

Even before the delta variant became dominant, experts say there were indications that larger gatherings and relaxed social distancing measures were fueling new cases.

“We had been cooped up for over a year and everyone wanted to get out,” said Dr. David Dowdy, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

“In the face of that kind of strong behavior change, even getting almost two-thirds of our adult population vaccinated wasn’t enough”.

The COVID-19 vaccines remain highly effective against hospitalization and death, but many tens of millions of eligible Americans remain unvaccinated.

Nearly 40% of Americans 12 and older are not fully protected.

In Rapid City, South Dakota, school officials have recorded nearly 300 cases among students and staff since classes began less than two weeks ago.

Still, the majority of school board officials voted this week 5-2 against a proposed two-week mask mandate.

“Nobody wanted to be here. Everyone wanted the personal freedom to be away from masks and free of illness,” said Amy Policy, who introduced the proposal with one other member.

“But we have to look at the facts: We’re having illness rage through the school and the community, so what can we do?” Still, Yale’s Vermund sees reasons to be cautiously optimistic about the next few months.

Cases in most states appear to be plateauing and are likely to decline in the fall, buying health authorities more time to vaccinate adults and teenagers before flu season.

“If we can continue making progress between now and Thanksgiving, we may be able to substantially blunt the coronavirus surge in flu season,” Vermund said.

While the economy has been rebounding strongly over the past several months, hiring slowed sharply in August in a sign that the variant is discouraging Americans from flying, shopping, or eating out.

And on Monday, unemployment benefits, including an extra $300 a week from the federal government, ran out for millions of Americans.

Button, the North Carolina chef, was feeling great heading into the summer.

Her team was mostly vaccinated in May and restrictions were loosening.

But the crisis soon changed direction.

The button supports the mask mandate that was recently reinstated in her county but said her employees are exhausted by having to enforce it.

And since she has no outdoor seating, some diners have been less comfortable coming in.

“It’s hard to take a step forward and then take three steps back,” she said.

West Virginia health officials say some rural hospitals have reached their critical bed capacities as coronavirus cases and deaths continue to surge statewide.

They are pleading with the public to avoid unnecessary ER visits to let hospitals focus their resources on treating COVID-19 patients.

There were 813 COVID-19 patients hospitalized statewide Wednesday, just below the record 818 on January 5 when vaccination efforts were starting.

There are 252 virus patients in ICUs and 132 patients on ventilators, according to state data, both all-time highs.

Dr. Clay Marsh, the state’s coronavirus expert, says “our hospitals are being stressed in ways that they haven’t been stressed before”.

In southern West Virginia, Princeton Community Hospital has no ICU beds available due to an increase in COVID-related patients.

But hospital president and CEO Karen Bowling says people with emergency needs should still come to the hospital.

Incoming patients will stay in the emergency department until a bed becomes available, either at the hospital or somewhere else.

Atlanta’s public safety-net hospital is the latest to temporarily cancel elective surgeries, saying it is overrun with COVID-19 patients.

Grady Memorial Hospital CEO John Haupert said Wednesday that the hospital was “inundated” with patients over Labor Day.

Some other Georgia hospitals have already canceled elective procedures due to the surge in pandemic cases.

More than 5,900 people are in Georgia hospitals with COVID-19.

Gov. Brian Kemp has rejected urgings from two Georgia congressmen that he order elective surgeries be postponed in all Georgia hospitals.

Kemp says the congressmen could better help by persuading the federal government to limit how much staffing companies can charge to provide nurses and other workers to supplement hospital capacity.

He also says they should demand clearer federal guidance on plans to provide COVID-19 booster shots.

Columbia (South Carolina): Some South Carolina cities are bringing back indoor mask requirements as the state’s coronavirus outbreak rivals the height of the pandemic last winter before vaccines were widely available.

The cities of Columbia, West Columbia and Cayce in central South Carolina have all adopted requirements that people wear masks in indoor public places except while eating and a few other exceptions.

South Carolina has never had a statewide mask mandate but it allowed local governments to do so in 2020.

Most of the mandates faded away after Gov.

Henry McMaster ended a 14-month COVID-19 state of emergency in June when the state was seeing about 150 new cases a day.

Now, South Carolina is seeing about 5,400 new coronavirus cases a day, similar to the pandemic’s peak in January.

Jackson: Mississippi is closing its only remaining field hospital for treating COVID-19 patients during the delta variant surge, but it is still relying on out-of-state workers to help increase ICU capacity in state hospitals.

State health officials said Wednesday that the field hospital set up by Christian relief charity Samaritan’s Purse is in the process of decommissioning.

A field hospital on the University of Mississippi Medical Center campus set up with health care workers from the federal government was decommissioned last month.

The official says Mississippi is seeing a small improvement in hospital bed availability, but ICU capacity continues to be “very scarce”.

The state had 1,660 people hospitalized for COVID-19 on Aug.18, compared with 1,285 on Tuesday.

Charleston: West Virginia health officials say some rural hospitals have reached their critical bed capacities as coronavirus cases and deaths continue to surge statewide.

They are pleading with the public to avoid unnecessary ER visits to let hospitals focus their resources on treating COVID-19 patients.

There were 813 COVID-19 patients hospitalized statewide Wednesday, just below the record 818 on Jan. 5 when vaccination efforts were starting.

There are 252 virus patients in ICUs and 132 patients on ventilators, both all-time highs.

The state’s coronavirus expert says “our hospitals are being stressed in ways that they haven’t been stressed before”.

In southern West Virginia, for instance, Princeton Community Hospital has no ICU beds available due to an increase in COVID-related patients.

Baton Rouge: Louisiana’s hospitals, crammed with coronavirus patients and Hurricane Ida-related emergency visits, are starting to see a bit of much-needed relief from the latest surge of COVID-19.

Hospitalizations from the coronavirus have been consistently falling over the last three weeks after breaking records and reaching 3,022 patients on Aug.18.

The state health department reports that that number has now dropped to 1,895.

It’s the first time it has been below 2,000 since the end of July.

Public health officials caution that hospitals continue to struggle with medical needs tied to cleanup and recovery from Ida.

Annapolis: Maryland is authorizing COVID-19 booster shots for all residents 65 and older who live in congregate care settings.Gov. Larry Hogan says residents in nursing homes, assisted-living facilities, residential drug treatment centers, and developmentally disabled group homes are eligible.

Hogan told a news conference Wednesday that “boosters can now be immediately administered”.

While the federal government has yet to say when most people should get booster shots, Hogan said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has approved them for people who are immunocompromised, and a Maryland study indicates many in those facilities are immunocompromised.

He said the state is “following CDC guidance but broadening the definition.”

Denver: A Colorado county’s public health department director says officials took three mobile COVID-19 vaccination clinics off the streets after workers were harassed while providing inoculations over Labor Day weekend.

Jefferson County Public Health executive director Dawn Comstock says staff at a mobile vaccine clinic in Gilpin County were yelled at and threatened by people passing by, The Denver Post reports.

Comstock says a driver ran over and destroyed signs put up around the vaccine clinic’s tent.

In a separate incident, someone also threw an unidentified liquid at a nurse working at a different mobile clinic in front of a restaurant.

St. Petersburg: A Florida judge has ruled the state cannot enforce its ban on mask mandates in public schools while an appeals court sorts out whether the ban is legal.

Leon County Circuit Judge John C. Cooper lifted an automatic stay of his decision last week that Republican Gov.

Ron DeSantis and state education officials exceeded their authority by imposing the blanket ban through executive order.

Cooper says the overwhelming evidence before him in a lawsuit by parents challenging the ban shows wearing masks does provide some protection for children in crowded school settings, particularly those under 12, who are not yet able to get vaccinated.

“We’re not in normal times. We are in a pandemic,” Cooper said during a remote hearing.

“We have a variant that is more infectious and dangerous to children than the one we had last year”.

The case next goes before the 1st District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee.

Tucson: Arizona’s second-most populous county is prodding its workforce to get COVID-19 vaccinations by requiring employees who refuse the shots to pay more for their health insurance.

The Pima County Board of Supervisors voted to make unvaccinated employees lose discounts amounting to about USD 1,570 annually.

Supervisor Steve Christy voted in opposition, saying the move was wrong and it’s illegal to penaliSe workers who choose to not get vaccinated.

The board previously authorized a USD 300 bonus plus three days of paid leave for county workers who have been vaccinated.

Washington: The summer was supposed to mark America’s independence from COVID-19 but it’s ending with the U.S. firmly under the command of the coronavirus, with deaths per day back up to levels in March.

The delta variant is filling hospitals, sickening alarming numbers of children, and driving coronavirus deaths in some places to the highest levels of the entire pandemic.

School systems that reopened their classrooms are abruptly switching back to remote learning because of outbreaks.

The U.S. recorded 26,800 deaths and more than 4.2 million infections in August.

The number of monthly positive cases was the fourth-highest total since the start of the pandemic.

The U.S.is averaging over 150,000 new cases per day, levels not seen since January.

Deaths are close to 1,500 per day, up more than a third since late August.

Overall, the outbreak is still well below the all-time peaks reached over the winter when deaths topped out at 3,400 a day and new cases at 250,000 per day.

The U.S. death toll stands at more than 650,000, with one major forecast model projecting it will top 750,000 by Dec.1.

Honolulu: A resort in the famed tourist mecca of Waikiki will be the first in Hawaii to require proof of COVID-19 vaccination for all employees and guests.

Starting Oct.15, Alohilani Resort will require employees, patrons, and guests to show proof they’re fully vaccinated.

The requirement will be in place for the six other Waikiki properties owned or operated by the Highgate real estate investment and hospitality management company.

Hotel officials say it’s the right thing to do as Hawaii struggles with a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations because of the highly contagious delta variant.

There was an average of 706 newly confirmed daily cases across Hawaii between Aug.30 and Sept.5, according to the state Department of Health.

Hawaii’s vaccination rate stands at 64%.

Omaha: Nebraska reported 5,649 new coronavirus cases last week, marking the 11th straight week of increases.

The Omaha World-Herald reports that’s up from 4,916 and 3,464 the previous two weeks.

The state was reporting 253 cases per week in late June when officials declared an end to a coronavirus emergency.

COVID-19 hospitalizations are straining facilities nearly full of other patients.

Eskalera, a Startup Led by Goldman Sachs’ Former HR Head Has Launched a Diversity and Inclusion Index

Eskalera, a technology startup led by Goldman Sachs former human resources head Dane Holmes, has launched an index to measure corporate diversity and inclusiveness,...

HSBC to Remove 35,000 Jobs Amidst Covid-19 Crises

HSBC Holdings Plc has restarted cutting as many as 35,000 jobs, three months after the coronavirus outbreak forced it to pause a long-awaited overhaul...

Genpact Offers Its Internal Skill Training Program Globally for Everyone

Genpact has announced Adapt and Rise, a role-based online learning platform that leverages Genpact's expertise honed from delivering real-world change for hundreds of clients....

San-Francisco Based Learning Platform Degreed Has Raised $32 Million in New Funding

The upskilling platform, Degreed, has announced $32 million in new funding in direct response to overwhelming demand for better skill insights, talent mobility, and...

Research Shows the Implications of Workplace Layouts on Employee Productivity and Overall Performance

As some workplaces prepare for the gradual return of employees and overhaul office layouts and seating plans, research has shown this could also have...

Employee Concierge ‘Back Technologies’ Integrates Automation Into Internal HR and Other Support Tasks

Companies are under increasing pressure to automate workflows and digitally service their employees, particularly in light of trends toward remote work. It takes an...

HR Strategies to Help Your Business Navigate the New ‘Normal’

No business is immune to the massive changes resulting from the health crisis. Organizations have proven themselves to be agile, and employees have demonstrated...

The Importance Of Diversity And Inclusion In HR, Hiring, Talent Management: Thoughts From A Top Expert

Michael C. Hyter is one of today’s best-known experts on inclusion and diversity and the author of The Power of Choice: Embracing Efficacy to Drive Your Career and The...

HR Expert Highlights Actionable Steps to ‘Make Real Change’ Against Racism in Your Workplace

Kyra Leigh Sutton, Ph.D., is a faculty member at the Rutgers University School of Management and Labor Relations, where she teaches human resources courses...

Adidas Employees Want Company to Investigate HR Chief for Response to Racial Issues

A group of Adidas employees from around the globe is asking the company to investigate its chief human resources officer, as part of a...